6 Essentials for Your Home Gym

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6 Essentials for Your Home Gym

Joining a gym is a great way to get in shape, but it's not the only way. You can get an effective workout without ever leaving the house. Here's what you need and how to set up a gym at home.

Dumbbells (Free weights)

A good set of dumbbells will help you start a strength training routine.  Expect to pay $10-$20 for a pair of 5-pound weights. Prices will increase as the weight goes up. 

Stability Ball

An exercise ball goes by many names (stability, Swiss, physio, etc.) and is extremely versatile. You can use them in place of an exercise bench for many exercises, improving your balance and coordination. The balls come in different sizes (based on your height and weight), and a rainbow of colors, and cost around $25 apiece. 

Exercise Mat

Place a good exercise mat on the floor to stretch comfortably and cushion your body during floor exercises—a must if you do a lot of Pilates or yoga. For about $20 you can get a sticky mat (for Pilates and yoga), which is thin—but better than a hard floor. The price goes up for larger and thicker mats.

Jump Rope

Use a $15 jump rope for a quick and effective cardio workout. Slowly jumping rope burns 120 calories every 10 minutes; jump faster and burn 140 calories in 10 minutes. Opt for a thick cloth rope or a plastic beaded rope; thinner plastic ropes tend to twist easier.

Cardio Machines

Once you have the basics, consider investing in a piece of cardio equipment. Make sure your machine has different resistance levels to allow for workout variety and challenge as you progress. Costs vary, from $400 for a basic stationary bike to over $600 for a good treadmill. 

Setting Up Your Gym

Now that you know what to buy, make sure you have enough space for your gym. If you can't dedicate a room to exercising, set aside a corner of the basement or home office. Choose a room with a high ceiling, and a sturdy, clean floor. Make sure you've got good lighting and ventilation (possibly with a fan). 

Try to set up your gym in a place where you'll have access to a TV so you can watch your favorite workout DVDS or a stereo so you can crank some energetic tunes. Better yet, if you have a laptop computer, you can use it to watch workout DVDs, follow along with SparkPeople videos, or listen to music. You’ve created a gym that you can really enjoy! 

Resistance Bands

Bands or "tubes" are great because they are compact, portable, and allow for a wide range of motion. Resistance bands come in 3-5 different levels of resistance and usually run around $15 for a set. 

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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7/24/2010 9:10:28 PM

I like to walk outside when the weather is nice in the mornings and evenings. I have pedals to spin, I have a treadmill ready for winter, an excercise ball, a stationary bike, and excercise videos. and great tips from spark people, with the equipment that I have.


7/24/2010 12:03:36 AM

BLANQUITA48's SparkPage
I started my fitness plan at home with a $9.99 video from The Firm. I went from a size 16 to a 10. I didn't need a gym but I have been to one a couple of times and it just depends on your circumstances. I agree with KEMCHNAIR- I would love to have that much room. hmmm maybe the garage?


7/23/2010 4:03:01 PM

SHARIROY's SparkPage
Exercising at home is better because I don't feel pressured or rushed and I don't feel like people are staring at me.


7/23/2010 11:37:36 AM

ALMOST200's SparkPage
I am laid off as a lot of people are and in order for me to work out I go to the library and take out exercise dvd's and use small dumbells I already had. So the cost to work out is nothing. But thanks for the new suggestions for the low cost items. I think I will purchase a balance ball and resistance bands in the future.


7/23/2010 6:22:55 AM

LILY_SPARK's SparkPage
I'd add a HRM. you can get a good one for $70--got mine at Target. While it's harder to find a cheap one with chest strap, it's essential. The touch versions are about like built in ones on cardio machines & those are terrible! :)


7/22/2010 10:17:23 PM

NEED2DROP50's SparkPage
I have had to cancel my gym membership due to lay off and cutting expenses. I have almost all of this except a treadmill..and I run outdoors no matter what the weather so..I'm good. I appreciated this article.


7/22/2010 10:01:18 PM

Cancelling our gym membership tomorrow due to finances of buying a new house. I have most of these but am going to wait on the treadmill and at-home gym! I like using the outdoors from my running and walking!

Resistance bands and the ball are amazing tools to use! Try to pick-up Kettle Bells/Balls for some "cross-fit" training - easy exercises for a low price at home.


7/22/2010 10:01:15 PM

I have all but the stability ball,I turned my extra bedroom into a gym,but due to injury have been unable to use.


7/22/2010 9:44:19 PM

Nice setup! If I had that much room, I might join a gym!

Anyway, I have a set of dumbbells and a stability ball. I have a jump rope but my ankles can't endure the pressure. I will consider purchasing the bands.

I also have a wii. Yes, I know people don't think there's much to the wii in terms of exercise. I guess it all depends on the level of fitness and since I'm not a triathlete, I'll keep using it. :0)


7/22/2010 9:27:49 PM

COVEGIRL1's SparkPage
I use resistance band, a stability ball, and weights for my various exercise programs at home.


7/22/2010 9:21:16 PM

I'm currently exercising at home but feel like it's not enough, my wt. has been stuck. I plan to join a gym this fall and have a trainer put me on a program.


7/22/2010 9:19:49 PM

2BEATIT1's SparkPage
Good for those especially who are not near a gym or can't afford the membership.


7/22/2010 8:37:16 PM

LMITCH01's SparkPage
I go to the gym and workout in a semi-private class (2-6 people) that combines intervals of cardio with strength & conditioning 3 days a week. I am planning to do at home training using resistance bands as well as a fitness ball on the opposite days. I am also going shopping for a bike this weekend. I have been attending Weight Watchers meetings since January and have hit a plateau. Hopefully this increase in physical activity will jumpstart my weight loss again, since I have been stuck for the last 3 weeks.


7/22/2010 8:26:32 PM

LEANJEAN6's SparkPage
I love exercising at home--saves the trip to and fro


7/22/2010 7:11:32 PM

I rather exercise at home than at the gym at my own pace and not feel so rushed. What I really love doing is walking when the weather is much cooler.

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